The Cyclone Rake blog is a place to find great information and inspiration to get the most joy and use out of your property. Each month we talk about great topics including lawn care, garden projects, and ways to save time and energy with solutions that will make caring for your property easy.
gardens grow longer in the South, where milder winters may mean more time to
clean up leaves and yard debris. Here are some best practices for cleaning up
leaves and lawn debris in the South - whether you’re catching up on raking,
cleaning up debris from pruning or a winter storm, or just thinning out pine
needles from under your trees.
Large leaf rakes make cleaning up
small and mid-sized yards easy. Raking is also a great way to get some winter
exercise and enjoy being in the colder season. Many
Brilliantly colored tree in Alabama
homeowners shred small
piles of leaves, using a lawnmower or chipper/shredder, to make mulch.
Shredding also makes composting leaves easier. Composting is a great practice
that can help make your yard neater, and shredded leaves are a useful
ingredient for compost, when mixed with other organic wastes in the compost
pile or compost bin.
Large yards with more deciduous
trees, as well as yards with mature pines and other evergreens, can see even
more leaves and pine needles.
Long Needle Pine Tree in North Carolina
Rakes and leaf blowers are useful for cleaning up
larger yards. A Cyclone Rake leaf vacuum, which attaches to a riding lawnmower,
makes cleaning up leaves and pine needles easier and less time-consuming. The
Cyclone Rake and its attachments can also be used for year-round yard cleanup
Homeowners in the South can take a
two-step approach when dealing with small tree branches, as well as
disease-free shrub clippings and prunings. Branches and prunings can be first
gathered into neat piles – or left just out of sight, behind the trees or shrubs
where they are pruned. After some time has passed, leaves will fall off or can
be easily shaken off, making it easier to move the stems and branches. The
leaves can then be tidily raked into mulch around the plants, used as mulch
elsewhere, or added to the compost pile. Branches can be shredded or added to a
brush pile for birds and wildlife to enjoy the rest of winter.
It’s the start
of a new year, and the middle of winter, meaning lawn care may seem far from
your mind. But it’s never too soon to make sure your lawn and garden tools and
supplies are ready to go for spring - and resolving to keep your yard tools
well-maintained is a New Year’s resolution that may prove possible to keep.
Start this year out right, with some time in your garage, storage shed or barn,
making sure maintenance is up-to-date for all the tools you’ll need this spring
– or finishing routine maintenance that may have slipped by before the
Pay special attention to all the
engines in your care: lawnmowers, lawn tractors,
trimmers and weedeaters, and
other engine-powered machines, such as the Cyclone SuperHauler. Late fall and
winter is a good time for replacing spark plugs and changing oil, if you forgot
that task after the lawn care season. Use fluids according to the
manufacturer’s recommendations, always storing fluids in approved containers and
disposing used oil properly. Inspect and clean or replace filters as needed. Be
sure mower decks are clean and blades are sharp, ready for the first grass
cutting in the spring. If you send your lawn tractor to a mechanic for an
annual tune-up, make that appointment now and beat the spring rush.
Then, take time to inspect and
maintain the moving parts on your tools – including tools without an engine.
Many machines, from lawnmowers to lawn shears, have moving parts needing only
an occasional application of grease or oil. Apply lubricants as needed, being
sure to follow the guidelines in owner’s manuals. If you forgot to give a final
fall cleaning for lawn equipment in storage, like the Cyclone Rake and other
tools, take some time to be sure they are cleaned and stored properly. Inspect
all the tires and wheels on your tools for excessive or unusual wear, which may
signal a need for replacement or additional maintenance. It’s not too late to
apply a coat of linseed oil to condition and preserve wooden tool handles, in
case you overlooked that task in the fall.
Yard care supplies also include
things without moving parts, like fertilizer and seed and other soil
amendments. Always store fertilizers and seeds in a dry location; keep grass
seed left from last year in a cool place, like a basement, where the seed will
not freeze. And use these winter months to take stock of your supplies, making
a list for supplies needed closer to spring. That will help you meet the aim of
your New Year’s resolution for maintaining lawn equipment and supplies: a truly
beautiful, healthy lawn and garden.
landscape creates a seasonal wonderland around in your yard and woods. Snow in
your driveway, however, begs for removal. Here are some ways you and your
family can stay active this winter while putting that snow to good use, as well
as how to avoid snow-related lawn headaches in the spring.
Before you break out the shovel,
snow blower or tractor, consider your kids. They are likely just itching to
play in some snow, and the snow in your driveway may be the perfect raw
material for building the family of snowmen or the stockade of snow forts.
Rolling up snowballs for building snowmen, by using snow from the driveway, can
also keep the yard covered with snow. This both looks nice and can help
insulate your grass and plants when temperatures take the next arctic plunge.
Your biggest challenge may be
keeping the kids from suspecting that they’re really part of your Driveway
Cleanup Operation. So be sure to stay out there, with your shovel or snow
blower, aiding their efforts to harvest snow from the driveway. This will keep
up morale and keep your whole family staying active in the winter outdoors. It
may also help you keep big piles of snow from being deposited in the middle of
the yard. Slow-melting snow piles in the lawn can promote turf diseases, like
snow mold, in the spring. Also keep this in mind if sledding starts to happen
in the middle of your yard, as heavily-packed snow can bring similar spring
Of course, there are always
tradeoffs: What’s a little snow mold in the spring, really, when the kids are
having so much fun outside? If you are looking to preserve certain parts of the
yard, suggest the youngsters place their snow forts and other winter building
projects in the woods, where grass conditions may not be of such great concern.
And don’t forget to help them deposit snow on the fort, or at the building
site. That may also keep away later accusations that they have actually been
part of your driveway cleanup plans (Maybe).
song calls for decking the halls, for ‘tis the season to be jolly. But in the
midst of a traditionally busy season in homes and workplaces, decorating your
home might create less than jolliness. Here are some possible helps, whether
you’re setting up a last minute Christmas tree, preparing for Hanukkah
gatherings or accenting décor for Kwanzaa.
Don’t be daunted by the number of
shopping days left; there’s still plenty of time to put up a Christmas tree. A
few stalwart celebrants even practice the historic tradition of trimming the
tree on Christmas Eve! Consider a trip to a local Christmas tree farm, if you
are still in the market for a natural Christmas tree, to bring home a fresh
tree that can be left up for a while. Freshness can be detected in pre-cut
trees by giving them a good shaking; if lots of green needles start flying, the
tree’s freshness may be suspect.
Hanukkah gatherings will bring plenty of people to your home. If you haven’t
yet stocked the pantry for the meal, be sure you soon acquire any ingredients
you know you’ll need but don’t always keep on hand. For decorating, simple
accents can highlight Hanukkah themes and plenty of home décor items are
available for purchase. But consider taking some time to create your own front
door treatment and other accents, using ideas gleaned from social media
outlets. A quick look at Pinterest showed plenty of distinctive Hanukkah
decorations that are also simple enough for children to help craft, so consider
these kinds of ideas to get youngsters involved before lights, games and gifts.
Traditional Hanukkah and Kwanzaa
celebrations involve candle lighting. If this is the first year you’ll host a
gathering, be sure to think through that part of the evening with all the
necessary luminary supplies. For holiday menus, different traditions may
observe different preferences. If you’re thinking this is the year to offer
some new holiday fare, be sure to consider any of your guest’s special dietary
considerations, whether seasonal or otherwise.
decorating can be one of the homeowner’s true dilemmas. How much is too much?
How much is too little? Should I install outdoor lights, and if I do, how can I
avoid making my house look tacky? What if I like tacky? What about holiday yard
ornaments? How much should I spend on this endeavor? Ah, the joys of holiday
decorating and home ownership. Not to worry; there are some proven practices
that can help you avoid being labeled the neighborhood Grinch by having an
unadorned home, while also avoiding seasonal kitsch.
First off, the matter of lights.
While strings of energy-saving LED exterior lights can greatly reduce the
annual energy cost of illuminating your home, most homes are not illuminated
most attractively by stringing miles of lights around every door, window and
eave! Take a good look at your home from the front, or wherever your holiday
guests will be coming in from the cold, and think about what features could be
best accented by lights. Some garden centers may even offer free consultations
with professional designers on such matters of lawn and yardscape design.
If you do decide to hang lights, or
even more lights, there are many gadgets that make the task easier and less
invasive to your structure. You might check with a friend or
whose home already features exterior holiday lighting, about which hangers work
best. Your best option may even be to avoid exterior lights entirely; single
candles in windows create a very welcoming holiday glow.
Then there is the matter of lawn
ornamentation. If your landscaping already includes garden sculptures and other
ornaments, your best option might be a bit of additional adornment. A festive
bow, or even lights, can add a seasonal welcome and whimsy. As for those
holiday lawn ornaments and whimsical holiday yard shows: Follow your own
tastes, budget safety guidelines and any applicable neighborhood regulations.
Lights certainly go with the season, and there are all kinds of ways to make
your home bring a smile and sense of joy to your guests and passersby.
Whether or not you decide to go for
lighting or ornaments, do consider dressing up your front door or entryway with
a seasonal wreath or other accents. It’s the first thing your guests will
notice as they come into your home – and a really great wreath can be the first
word of “Welcome” to your holiday guests.
leading up to New Year’s Day may seem a time to stay busy in other places
besides your yard. But don’t miss the chance to take time outdoors and finish
getting your yard ready for winter. We like to think of winter yard prep as
“Three M’s” – moisture, mulch and
The first M is moisture, especially
important for evergreens, as well as new plantings that may have been installed
in fall. Consider giving your evergreen trees and shrubs a good watering before
the ground freezes, especially if rainfall has recently been less than one inch
per week. If you’re in an area where winter freezing is less severe, keep an
extra close eye on evergreens through the winter. Some species could
potentially benefit from additional winter watering, especially younger trees
Second: make sure you mulch. A layer
of mulch after soaking fall rains, or a final fall watering, can help the
ground retain moisture. Perhaps more important, mulch insulates the ground from
temperature swings. Thawing and freezing causes the ground to heave, which can
be hard on plant roots and overall plant health. A two- to six-inch layer of
shredded leaves or similar mulch material can help guard your ground,
protecting your plant from winter heaving. When it comes to winter mulching,
not all plants are created equal; some are tender, some are hardy. Follow garden guides or seek advice from your
local garden center or Master Gardener program to make sure your mulch layer is
the proper thickness.
Finally, pay attention to our
catchall “M,” maintenance. Guard young trees and woody perennials from wildlife
damage with tree guards or screens. Take a good look at deciduous trees, now
that leaves have fallen, to see where you’ll need extra pruning in the spring.
Consider applying plant wrap to young evergreen trunks, especially those with
southern exposure, to prevent sun scald – a common winter malady.
Winter yard prep even goes beyond
the plants, to your utilities. Don’t forget to drain and stow hoses, clean and
store garden tools, oil wooden handles with linseed oil, and install winter
faucet covers on outdoor faucets. That way you’ll be able to keep your
equipment in top shape, ready to bring out next spring.
firewood with a wheelbarrow can be a time-consuming task. The new CycloneSuperhauler makes it simpler to move firewood from the truck or woods to the
woodpile. And, with a hauling capacity of up to 800 pounds, the Superhauler
brings power and stability to other jobs year-round.
The Cyclone Superhauler has four
wheels, an advantage over trying to balance a load of firewood moved on one or
two wheels. The powerful and efficient Briggs & Stratton InStart engine,
combined with a U.S.-made no-shift hydrostatic transmission, keeps the loads
moving at a steady and stable pace.
Four wheels also provide hauling
stability up and down slopes. The Terra-Traction locking differential drive,
quickly engaged with a tap of the foot pedal, gives fuller traction on steep
slopes, mud and sand. This makes it easier to bring firewood from the woods to
your woodpile – and can reduce the chance for the load spilling on the way.
Greater load stability also makes it
easier to move more wood, faster. Firewood can be stacked in the SuperHauler
standard bulk bin or the one-of-a-kind solid-steel FlexiDeck. The FlexiDeck
adds versatility for hauling larger items like fence, posts, logs, branches and
hay or straw bales.
The SuperHauler has two front wheel
options, turf or all-terrain. Turf tires are gentle on lawns and provide great
traction on smooth surfaces – perfect for hauling firewood from the truck, down
the driveway and across the yard. All-terrain tires are well-suited for
bringing firewood home across mud and sand, the kinds of terrain that can
easily bog down other carts and wheelbarrows.